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© Paul Smith
© Paul Smith

Brit Chic meets Bauhaus

Designer Paul Smith’s current knitwear collection pays homage to the work of artist Anni Albers.
by Silke Bücker | 10/17/2018

British designer Paul Smith has turned the multicolored stripe look into a piece of Pop culture. His significant interpretation gained attention world-wide and has long since been regarded a classic with iconic character. Wearable designs of classic Brit Chic with an idiosyncratic twist as well as a keen sense for complex color combinations based on traditional patterns have made Smith one of the most popular figures in British fashion. He is very concerned not to lose sight of the craft aspect of his work: “I am a very old-fashioned, analog person. I love the element of risk and of the unknown that arises when you work with your hands. I believe that technological progress can make many fantastic things happen, but it is crucial that we support and foster the crafts in the digital age. I encourage all the designers working in my studio to use their hands,” says Smith.

He found inspiration for his current collection in the abstract woven works of textile artist and Bauhaus student Anni Albers, who, like Smith, always included the functional, industrial and ultimately commercial aspects in her work. Indeed, she designed fabrics for everyday use and elements for architecture as well as purely decorative pieces and liked to interweave her art with the pragmatic demands of everyday life. The complex cosmos of Anni Albers’ work will be shown in a comprehensive retrospective at London’s Tate Modern until January 27, 2019. The exhibition centers on artworks, photographs, books, texts and materials that inspired the artist to conceive of the woven thread as the form of a universal language. Parallel to the show, Paul Smith is launching a capsule collection as a personal homage to Anni Albers, which he has conceived in collaboration with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. It includes a sweater, scarf and blanket, made from cashmere and lamb’s wool. “Both Anni and Josef Albers had a wonderful perception of color. I think that is what inspires me the most about their work,” notes Paul Smith.

Anni Albers x Paul Smith - Multi-Coloured Geometric Stripe Lambswool Scarf
© Paul Smith
Anni Albers x Paul Smith - Multi-Coloured Geometric Stripe Lambswool Scarf
© Paul Smith
Anni Albers x Paul Smith - Women's Geometric Stripe Cashmere Sweater
© Paul Smith
Anni Albers x Paul Smith - Women's Geometric Stripe Cashmere Sweater
Anni Albers x Paul Smith - Men's Geometric Stripe Cashmere Sweater
© Paul Smith
Anni Albers x Paul Smith - Men's Geometric Stripe Cashmere Sweater
Paul Smith
© James Mooney
Paul Smith
Anni Albers, 1925, Wool, silk, chenille and bouclé yarn, 93 x 37 3/4 in., Collection Die Neue Sammlung, Munich
© 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/DACS, London
Anni Albers, 1925, Wool, silk, chenille and bouclé yarn, 93 x 37 3/4 in., Collection Die Neue Sammlung, Munich